I have a confession.
I pride myself on knowing my greatest talents and strengths, yet they sometimes get me into trouble and it drives me absolutely insane.
I don’t think I’m alone.
We all have strengths and talents that let us do incredible things, but there’s also a “dark side”. Our strengths can also get the best of us if left unguarded or misunderstood.
For me, it’s my Responsibility and Harmony. I know what you’re thinking, “Those seem like goodie two-shoes themes. How in the world do they get you in trouble?”
First of all, I don’t mean TROUBLE, Trouble. I just mean they leave me cursing myself for my inability to reign it all in. So, maybe instead of the "dark side" of talent, I should call it, Talent Exuberance.
Let me explain.
Does anyone else get frustrated day after day because you pack waaaay too much into each day even though you tell yourself, “I’m NOT going to do that today.”? For me, that’s my
"Responsibility" in action.
My Responsibility binds me to my commitments and the things I need to do, or should do. My Responsibility encourages me to take on too much, yet it also keeps me on task. And my Harmony makes it hard for me to just say no. I hate letting people down. So therefore, I end up with a packed schedule (that I scheduled myself, mind you) that leaves me frantic, frazzled and annoyed.
Talent Exuberance indeed.
But the flip side is that my Responsibility has been a huge gift to me. It’s the main reason I’ve been successful in my life, and it's the reason people trust me; I do what I say I'm going to do.
I know I have the tendency to say yes more often than I want to, but the beautiful part is, because I know this about myself, I can also change it. Knowledge is power!
I used to have calendar overwhelm. My schedule was planned months in advance, and it felt like every day was booked solid. "All fun stuff", I would lament to a friend, but then why did it feel so stressful and like work?
And then, I made a choice to keep Tuesday’s wide open, on purpose. No exercise, no work. Just a wide open, empty day for me.
But I’m not gonna lie, it was a slippery slope. My Tuesday self-talk would go something like this: “Well, I could at least have lunch with that person--- that’d be fun, and I have to eat lunch anyway.”
”Well, as long as I’m having lunch with so-and-so, I might as well try to see that other friend because it has been a long time, and I feel guilty I haven’t made more of an effort.”
“While I’m in that part of town, I’ll swing by that little market I love and grab something fun for dinner.”
See how it could get out of control so fast?
My kill-two-birds mindset meant that I was shooting the flock out of my free day.
And before I knew it, the free day was gone. Again.
I bring this up, not because I don’t love spending time with friends – I absolutely love it! But as I continue to learn about myself, I’m starting to recognize the “underbelly” tendencies of my strengths, and what I need to do to protect myself.
For me, it's about protecting my time.
Here's what's cool.
Before I knew about my strengths, this overscheduled-take-on- too-much life, was just something I did. I didn’t know how it happened and I didnt know that I could change it.
Now, my increased awareness of my strengths – the why I do what I do – makes control possible. It's kinda like I’m on to myself, finally.
Now, my favorite day of the week is my DCN: That’s my Day of the Conscious Nope. I say no to everything, no matter what, because I'm already totally booked (and have been for months)– with myself.
No apologies, no explanations, just NOPE!
And if you're like I was, I really, really, really want this for you too.
Whether or not you take me up on making your own DCN, the freebie below, will help you figure out your own talents and strengths. You'll begin to discover how they help you, and you may also start to notice how your "talent exuberance" gets in the way.
My DCN is my favorite day of the week. I’m protecting myself from myself, and that’s empowering.